The Yogi Adityanath government has ordered an inquiry into a scheme of the previous Samajwadi Party government for building boundary walls around burial grounds for minority communities to guard against encroachments.
Around Rs 1,300 crore was spent on implementation of the scheme across the state in the last five years and that expenditure will also be looked into by the government of Adityanath, who has brought under the radar other policies of the Akhilesh Yadav government already.
Ministers in the current government said that though all minority communities were to benefit from the scheme, the money was used only for burial grounds of the Muslim community. The BJP had raised the issue of construction of boundary walls around graveyards, in the Assembly elections. The UP government has constituted a three-member inquiry committee under civil aviation special secretary Suryapal Gangwar to conduct the probe. The other members would be a chief engineer of the PWD and a superintending engineer of the UP Housing and Development Board.
In its manifesto for the 2012 Assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party had promised to build the boundary walls around kabristans. After the party came to power, the government decided to give effect to the proposal in its first cabinet meeting on March 15, 2012.
District Magistrates were asked to receive proposals from the Shia and Sunni Central Wakf Boards and sanction the cost of the boundary wall, it was decided. The BJP had protested the decision.
As allegations of “Muslim appeasement” persisted, the Akhilesh cabinet on September 4, 2012 named the scheme Alpsankhyak Samudaayaon ke Kabristaanon/Anteyshti Sthal ki Bhoomi ki Suraksha Yojana, and extended it to cover boundary walls and cremation grounds of other minority communities such as Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis. The DMs were asked to identify graveyards and cremation grounds of minority communities for the construction of 1.35-metre-high boundary walls.
Minority Welfare minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary told The Indian Express that scheme was meant for cremation grounds and graveyards of all minority communities but th money was spent only on kabristans and not a single rupee was utilised for cremation grounds or graveyards of other minority communities.
The probe would be conducted on several points. “It is regarding quality of construction, illegal possession of land through boundary walls of kabristans and alleged anomalies in awarding contracts for the construction,” Chaudhary said.
The scheme was run by the state government’s Muslim Wakf Department. In its budget for 2012-13, the state government made a provision of Rs 200 crore for the scheme, and boundary walls were proposed to be constructed around 1,130 graveyards and cremation grounds. The government spent 100 per cent of the budgetary allocation for the scheme during the year.
In August 2013, the office of the Survey Commissioner, Wakf, told The Indian Express in response to a question under the Right to Information Act that it had identified 85,315 graveyards and 339 cremation grounds of minority communities across the state for the construction of boundary walls.